Unreasonable demands

From today’s Independent:

The Taliban, whose extreme interpretation of Sharia law and its harsh punishments made Afghanistan one of world’s most repressive and reviled regimes, have agreed to soften their position on such things as beards and burqas as part of a trade-off in negotiations with the Afghan government…Although the new stance shows a shift in the Taliban posture, some demands are certain to be rejected by both President Karzai’s government and the Americans. They include the stipulation that all foreign forces should withdraw from Afghanistan within six months.

Changing the rules of war

George Bisharat, professor of law at Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, writes, in the San Francisco Chronicle, that “what is less appreciated is how Israel is […] brutalizing international law, in ways that may long outlast the demolition of Gaza.”

The extent of Israel’s brutality against Palestinian civilians in its 22-day pounding of the Gaza Strip is gradually surfacing. Israeli soldiers are testifying to lax rules of engagement tantamount to a license to kill. One soldier commented: “That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him.”

What is less appreciated is how Israel is also brutalizing international law, in ways that may long outlast the demolition of Gaza.

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Riz Khan – Chas Freeman and the Israeli lobby

Charles “Chas” Freeman was selected last month by the administration of Barak Obama, the US president, for one of the country’s top intelligence jobs, chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

Within hours, pro-Israel advocates launched a major offensive to make sure Freeman’s appointment did not stand.

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